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How Is a Commercial HVAC System Different from a Residential System?

Rooftop HVAC systems

Commercial services have different HVAC requirements compared to residential needs.

Commercial heating and cooling services usually have to cover more building space, requiring a more robust HVAC system to meet higher heating and cooling loads. If you’re looking to set up, repair, or replace a commercial HVAC system, you won’t get any background on the subject from your home’s HVAC system user manual. That’s because there are significant differences between commercial and residential HVAC systems.

Installer Requirements

There is a difference between commercial HVAC contractors and residential HVAC contractors. Commercial HVAC contractors understand how to assess the complex heating and cooling needs of larger commercial buildings while residential HVAC contractors know how to work on smaller units and service ductwork, a feature more common in residential systems.

Number of HVAC units

Most businesses are located in buildings larger than your typical home, which translates into more HVAC units to meet the heating and cooling demands. In contrast, residential systems usually only require one HVAC unit to meet demand.

Type of HVAC units

It’s common for residential systems to have separate components indoors and outdoors (condenser, evaporator, and ductwork). On the other hand, commercial systems commonly come in packaged units for ease of access and maintenance.

Power Usage

Due to the higher number of units and the larger heating and cooling requirements, commercial HVAC systems typically use more power than residential systems.

Zoning Requirements

Although many homeowners are using new technology to define temperature zones throughout their homes, commercial buildings usually require more complex zoning strategies with multiple thermostats installed to capture accurate readings across different areas.

Drainage Requirements

A single condensate pan will typically suffice for a residential system, but commercial systems require more extensive drainage systems to prevent overflow and leaks.

Maintenance Costs

Although residential systems are separated into indoor and outdoor components, they’re still cheaper to maintain than commercial systems. This is because each packaged unit of a commercial HVAC system requires its own maintenance check.

Even though the goal of commercial and residential HVAC systems is the same (cool and heat a given space), it’s important to keep these differences in mind when you’re considering the heating and cooling needs of your commercial building.

If you’d like to discuss your commercial HVAC system needs with one of our certified technicians, contact Brummitt Heating & Cooling today.